As a hormone expert who’s always on the lookout for natural ways to help my clients find relief from hormone symptoms, I’m really excited about some of the data on the use of essential oils. Trials are small and not powered for statistical significance, but the trends appear to support the benefits of oils for hormone balance.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are all-natural oils made up of a complex mixture of natural chemicals that are extracted from certain parts of plants – leaves, barks, rinds, and herbs. There are a few different methods that can be used to extract and concentrate these oils – distillation with water and/or steam, mechanical processing known as expression (unique to citrus peel oils), or a process called maceration, which is only used on a very limited number of plants.
After distillation, the oil is separated from the water, so it’s truly pure oil. That makes these oils extremely concentrated – and very powerful. A little goes a long way, and very few essential oils should be used in the fully concentrated form.
Here are 6 to try that can be especially helpful for women across the menopause spectrum:
1. Clary Sage Oil
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research found that inhalation of clary sage oil had the ability to reduce cortisol levels by 36% and improved thyroid hormone levels (TSH). The study was done on 22 post-menopausal women in their 50’s, some of whom were diagnosed with depression. At the end of the trial, the researchers stated, “Clary sage oil had a statistically significant effect on lowering cortisol and had an anti-depressant effect improving mood.” This is just one of the many studies proving clary sage oil benefits hormones.
Many midlife women’s health issues are caused by excess estrogen in the body. Because clary sage helps balance out estrogen levels, it’s an incredibly effective essential oil for a wide array of hormone imbalances. So, whether you’re looking for natural relief from cramps or you’re dealing with estrogen excess, clary sage is a great essential oil to consider using. You can also find it in blends that promote hormone balance and calm.
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When it comes to balancing levels of T3 and T4, the thyroid hormones, frankincense essential oil can be very helpful. This oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease cortisol, which also has a big impact on proper thyroid functioning. Although research is again limited, frankincense has been used, with success, to reduce symptoms of hormone imbalance such as pain, constipation, anxiety, nausea, headaches, and mood swings.
3. Thyme Oil
Thyme oil benefits the body by improving progesterone production. Many women in midlife become low in progesterone as they approach menopause. Low progesterone is associated with insomnia, mood swings, weight gain, and hot flashes. It is also one of the hallmark symptoms of PCOS.
Thyme oil is a great first step to help balance progesterone or can be used in addition to other natural alternatives like Chasteberry or bioidentical progesterone. Add oregano oil for even more potency.
Lavender is one of the most well researched essential oils. It has many beneficial properties including helping balance hormones, offering pain relief (particularly abdominal cramps associated with PMS and menstrual symptoms), as well as decreasing feelings of stress and depression, calming the stomach, and relieving headaches.
One of the most frustrating symptoms of PMS or hormone imbalance is feeling emotional or suddenly depressed for no apparent reason. Research shows that inhalation of lavender can alleviate some of the depression and emotional symptoms of hormone imbalance. Put a drop of the oil on your palms, rub together and inhale for 10 minutes to lessen symptoms.
Rosemary essential oil can help remove excess estrogen from your body by supporting Phase 1 of estrogen detox. Research has detailed the many benefits of rosemary, including lowering cortisol in saliva, anti-cancer properties, improving memory, and impacting mood. It can also help with hair loss. What makes rosemary so effective? Many say it’s the antioxidant activity of its chemical composition.
Rose essential oil balances testosterone levels in your body, which is important for women as well as men. Rose is also known as an aphrodisiac, which can aid in boosting your libido. A study in 2009 showed that rose essential oil promoted greater feelings of calm and relaxation than the placebo, which can help in balancing cortisol and supporting the adrenal glands. Finally, rose essential oil has demonstrated the ability to decrease blood pressure and breathing rate, improve serotonin levels, and other neuropeptides, further promoting a sense of calm.
Ways to Use Essential Oils
Personally, I prefer to use essential oils aromatically by diffusing them into the air. Diffusing provides many of the same benefits as topical use. Clary sage and lavender smell great when combined. The amount of oil you add to water in the diffuser depends on the size of the water tank, but it’s usually a total of 10-15 drops of oil per container of water.
Another way to use them is to mix them with some fractionated coconut oil (it’s a liquid) and rub all over your skin. It’s great for dry skin and the essential oil molecules are absorbed through the skin. You can also do this using a rollerball vial.
Note: some oils can be used internally, but I do NOT recommend doing so without checking with an expert first.
Here’s a recipe for a hormone balancing blend you can mix up at home:
- 1 oz. evening primrose oil
- 30 drops clary sage oil
- 30 drops thyme oil
- 30 drops ylang-ylang oil
Mix all ingredients together in a 2-ounce bottle. Put mixture into a glass vial with a dropper.
Rub 5 drops onto neck twice daily.
Need a source for essential oils? I highly recommend (and use) dōTERRA oils. They are therapeutic grade oils and independently verified for purity. If interested, click here to purchase the oils at wholesale prices, and then, click the green “Join dōTERRA” button at the bottom of the page. Then, simply follow the remaining steps.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.
Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultations. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-